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The Poughkeepsie Tapes (2007) - Blu-ray Review

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The Poughkeepsie Tapes - Blu-ray

5 beersA balloon fetish.  Why’d it have to be a balloon fetish?

Bathed in the now familiar green glow of night vision, a camcorder records the theft of a body from a cemetery.  We are low in angle, but we can see rope being slipped over a person’s body. The POV shot is a jangled mess of handheld energy, but there it is: a rotting corpse being slowly tugged from out of its grave and then, finally, hauled away. 

Even for a found footage-styled flick, that’s a hell of a way to begin a movie, if you ask me.  Unsettling.  Twisted.  And so very disturbing.  Welcome to the deranged world of the unidentified serial killer at the heart of this police investigation.  Get ready.  Trust me, you will be bathing for days after sitting through this grisly tale of murder. 

I’ve seen a lot of horror films.  Few make me jump.  Fewer still keep me up at night.  The Poughkeepsie Tapes is one of those films that, no matter how many times I watch it, ALWAYS rattles my cage.  It’s creepy and effective in its combination of interviews, archival news reports, and the videocassettes the killer kept as mementos of his work. 

Before it was pulled from DirectTV in 2014 by MGM for a theatrical release that never happened, I was able to catch it and it haunted me for days after.  And then it was gone.  Already an air of mystery shrouded over it.  Prior to that brief release (it was maybe a week), the film was seen making the rounds at film festivals.  That was in 2007.  Even back then, MGM had their eyes on it for a theatrical release.  They worked their magic, targeting spring of 2008, and the film got shelved.

The Poughkeepsie Tapes is a documentary-styled film that tells the story of a fictional serial killer in Poughkeepsie, New York, and, as it successfully weaves a sort-of mixed media approach in its narrative, it is truly ominous as it replicates the look and the feel of a true crime documentary, complete with interviews from detectives and snippets of the over 800 videocassettes that the killer, dubbed the "The Water Street Butcher".

There is a chilling atmosphere that surrounds the response to this film.  We are reaching almost mythical proportions, too, and it is well deserved.  You don’t simply walk away from this intense of an experience.  A lot of people talk this faux documentary up and, yes, I am one of them.  Which is why Scream Factory’s Blu-ray/DVD combo of this haunting tale is so eagerly awaited.  It doesn’t disappoint.

Many haven’t seen it; many have only heard about The Poughkeepsie Tapes.  That is about to change and, as the film documents the many snuff films of one psychotic killer’s rampage, it won’t soon be forgotten. 

The anticipated hype for this release is truly a compliment to the filmmaking team of writer/director John Erick Dowdle and writer/producer Drew Dowdle (Quarantine, Devil, No Escape).  While poorly received among the few that saw it, the film has managed to stake a rather jarring position in people’s skulls.

Static lines and unstable tracking be damned, The Poughkeepsie Tapes finally gets its better image quality thanks to this HD release from Scream Factory.

The Poughkeepsie Tapes - Blu-ray

MPAA Rating: R.
Runtime:
86 mins
Director
: John Erick Dowdle
Writer:
John Erick Dowdle
Cast:
Stacy Chbosky, Ben Messmer, Samantha Robson
Genre
: Horror | Mystery
Tagline:
The Terror is Real.
Memorable Movie Quote: "Do you wanna see what the other side of the camera looks like...?"
Theatrical Distributor:
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM)
Official Site:
Release Date:
April 27, 2007
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date:
October 10, 2017
Synopsis: In an abandoned house in Poughkeepsie, New York murder investigators uncover hundreds of tapes showing decades of a serial killer's work.

The Poughkeepsie Tapes - Blu-ray

Blu-ray

Blu-ray Details:

Home Video Distributor: Shout Factory
Available on Blu-ray
- October 10, 2017
Screen Formats: 1.85:1
Subtitles
: English SDH
Discs: Blu-ray Disc; single disc
Region Encoding: Locked to Region A

 

Presented by Scream Factory, The Poughkeepsie Tapes looks as one would expect a found footage film to appear.  The new release features a 1080p AVC encoded video with an aspect ratio of 1.85:1. and sports both DTS-HD MA 2.0 and DD 2.0 Mono audio tracks.  Because this is a found footage film, the video rarely resembles high definition/film.  This is by design, of course, with only the interview segments looking remarkable crisp and bright.  As with any found footage flick, there are a handful of shots that look very good and reveal discerning levels of detail and dimension.  When appropriate, the colors are natural and contrast is well balanced.  Throughout the presentation, black levels are notable.  Shadow detail is quite good as depth of field in the low light levels is gratifying.  A DVD copy is also included.

 

Supplements:

Commentary:

  • None

Special Features:

Director John Erick Dowdle and his brother, producer Drew Dowdle talk about how the movie came to be and their career in the years following the film.  They talk about their ideas and what they wanted to achieve with the film.  Also included is an interview with actress Stacy Chbosky, newly filmed, where she talks about her role in the film, how she was cast, and why the underground status of the film actually helped it.

  • Sorting Through the Tapes (30 min)
  • The Willing Victim (22 min)
  • Theatrical Trailer

The Poughkeepsie Tapes - Blu-ray

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